At least six Palestinians were killed Wednesday afternoon after an explosive device they attempted to detonate on the Israeli border during a riot blew up prematurely, the military and health officials in the Gaza Strip said.
The rally was organized in the Malka area, east of Gaza City to commemorate the 18th anniversary of Israel’s pullout from the Strip.
The Israeli military said hundreds of rioters participated in the violent protest, including some who hurled explosive devices and grenades at the security barrier. Troops responded with riot dispersal means.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, at one stage during the riot, Palestinians attempted to plant and detonate a makeshift bomb against troops operating near the border fence, but the device exploded prematurely in the Gaza Strip, leading to casualties.
In a statement, the Hamas terror group said it mourned the six “heroic martyrs” who were killed in the blast.
The IDF published footage showing the detonation of the explosive device on the Palestinian side of the Gaza security barrier.
In addition to the six dead, 25 other Palestinians were wounded in Wednesday’s riots, some seriously, according to the Hamas-run ministry. Some were wounded as a result of the explosion, while others by riot dispersal means employed by IDF troops.
Separately on Tuesday night, the IDF said troops detained three Palestinians who were rioting on the border.
On September 6, Palestinians detonated a large explosive device on the Gaza border, during a riot that saw a number of explosives being detonated and grenades hurled at the border barrier in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
The recent riots signal a possible return by Hamas and other terror factions in the Gaza Strip to a policy of regular mass protests along the border, as Hamas seeks to draw attention to the worsening living conditions in the impoverished coastal strip after Qatar, one of the biggest donors of the regime, has cut back on monthly disbursements.
Weekly protests along the frontier began at the end of March 2018 and continued almost every Friday until the end of 2019, with the demand that Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave and a call for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now a part of the Jewish state.
Israel says its blockade of Gaza is necessary to prevent Hamas from freely arming itself for war and attacks.
The weekly protests on the border in 2018 and 2019 frequently involved violence, including the hurling of explosives, rocks and firebombs at IDF soldiers, as well as attempts to storm and sabotage the border fence, and in some cases live fire toward Israeli soldiers. Troops often responded with rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, as well as live fire. More than 200 Palestinians were killed in the riots and thousands were injured.
In addition, Palestinians regularly flew helium balloons into Israel carrying explosives and incendiary devices, sparking fires that destroyed large swaths of foliage.